Custom application development and the cloud: An ideal solution to the BYOD security problem

The proliferation of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model is possibly the biggest business technology story this year. This blog touched on the concept of BYOD earlier this month, but some of the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy are becoming more apparent.

The shift from traditional desktop to PCs to modernized mobile devices began to take place a couple of years ago, but as the technology continued to evolve, many corporations began to realize something – consumer technology was outpacing business solutions.

Today, people stand outside for hours in line just to get their hands on the latest iPhone, Android or, if the folks at the company formerly known as Research in Motion have anything to say about it, the BlackBerry. The features and functionality of these devices have caused price tags to skyrocket, and many companies struggle to keep up. So, instead of deploying a few second-rate handheld devices to employees, many businesses have decided to optimize the resources at their workers’ disposal by allowing them to bring their gadgets into the office.

Doing so reduces spending and builds efficiency, perhaps the two biggest factors driving the majority of business decisions ever year. So, why doesn’t every organization adopt this policy? The trouble is, many companies have a difficulty entrusting employees to store data on their personal devices.

However, the benefits of using a high-powered personal device are too important to pass up. This blog’s aforementioned previous entry suggested building a custom database software system to help manage information on personal devices, and FileMaker is the program to help businesses get there.

In addition to providing the tools companies need to develop strong software programs to run on iPhones, Androids and any other personal mobile device, FileMaker can allow organizations to host their apps in the cloud. That way, individuals with powerful smartphones and tablets can use their devices’ internet capabilities to access information from the cloud. This is an ideal solution because it capitalizes on the advantages of using personal devices without damaging a company’s security efforts.

Infrastructure as a Service popularity shows strength of cloud computing

The “as a service” model has grown exponentially over the past few years. Today, instead of using their internal resources to manage computer systems, data management, storage and backup systems, more companies are outsourcing their efforts to service providers. For example, software as a service (SaaS) allows organizations to run applications without having to implement them into their own systems.

The need for services on demand will continue to grow and will likely branch out into additional areas. Infrastructure, for example, is something many companies are struggling to keep in​-house, so infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is becoming increasingly popular. Essentially, organizations are using other services to host applications and data outside of their premises. This is most commonly done with cloud computing.

A study conducted by Gartner indicates that IaaS is the fastest growing sector in this area. An article in the online publication Midsize Insider suggests this indicates just how popular and effective the cloud has become in recent years.

“The powerful growth of cloud computing illustrated by this analysis reinforces the benefits and necessity of distributed IT resources,” writes Joe Hewitson, the author of the article. “Data demands and the hardware on which to accommodate them will continue to increase irrespective of a business’s current size, and as such a scalable solution like IaaS will remain at the forefront of IT.”

When companies start to feel the weight of growing volumes of information, it’s best to construct a custom database software system to help manage it. FileMaker is an ideal solution because not only will it let organizations develop solutions quickly, it also allows them to store their systems and data in a cloud environment. By following the IaaS model, businesses can free up physical space and reduce overhead costs without compromising data management operations.

Cloud computing helps companies manage big data

Managing data and allowing it to assist business initiatives is complicated enough, but there are related factors that must also be considered. When organizations are faced with a treasure trove of information and have specific directives in mind for their digital files, they must construct solutions to get their data to add operational value. However, that’s only half the big data battle. The other side of the equation is equally as vital: where is the information going to go?

As this blog has stated in the past, using FileMaker to build a comprehensive database software solution to perform crucial tasks like data deduplication will go a long way toward mitigating the risks of overgrown data volumes. However, there is still the matter of where to store that information. In today’s increasingly virtual world, more organizations are ditching physical machines and opting for hosted services to help store, view and manage pertinent data.

Cloud computing is a perfect compl​ement to custom application development. Businesses create solutions designed to manipulate data and use it to gain insights into key metrics, but hosting the solution on-site sets organizations up for myriad risks. Disaster recovery and information security efforts can be compromised should an organization suffer from an unforeseen incident. Meanwhile, using FileMaker to host an application in the cloud allows businesses to protect their information from targeted attacks and allows them to streamline the recovery process should they ensure a system shutdown.

Using cloud computing to manage custom applications also introduces several new advantages, namely mobility. By allowing employees to manage data and processes on smartphones and tablets, companies can attain a new level of operational efficiency. Working with a FileMaker-based development firm will let companies obtain these solutions quickly and easily, ensuring the delivery of a strong return on investment.

Study: CEOs to invest in data management solutions to improve customer interaction

At the beginning of each year, CEOs have a major responsibility. They must look at their respective companies as a whole and make important decisions pertaining to operational spending, with each decision designed to achieve the ultimate goal of improving the organization and increasing profitability. As the years pass and technology evolves, CEOs have adjusted some of their decisions accordingly, but the underlying principle remains the same.

According to a study conducted by Gartner, CEOs have placed improving customer interaction as their top priority in 2013. This is certainly a timeless goal. Business executives always want to improve customer service, the way they market to potential buyers and manage the sales process. Customers equal revenue. However, the way CEOs intend to improve customer management show just how far business technology has evolved.

Gartner’s research indicates that CEO’s intend to increase investments into data management tools and procedures as a means to better service their customers and, ultimately, increase revenue. According to the survey, 71 percent of CEO’s intend to increase spending in data and business analytics.

Gartner Vice President and Research Fellow Ken McGee gave a recent presentation about the study’s results and said that the research indicates a trend in the way businesses are working to improve their handling of customers. Instead of concerning themselves with customer-facing solutions, the focus is shifting to the back office.

“The back office has been a big black hole of gravitational pull for IT spend, but that’s beginning to change, “McGee said. “Companies and executives are asking, ‘What is the business process?’ Customer-facing, front-office areas like marketing and sales were given ‘explicit mention’ in CEO investment priority while technology itself is an explicit priority for only a few.”

Most CEO’s will likely opt to invest in database software solutions designed to give key insights into customer behavior, trends and other pertinent information. Using FileMaker can help organizations develop solutions designed to streamline the data management process, allowing businesses to drastically improve customer management practices.

Clothing distributor gains future insights with help of database software 

No organization owns a magic crystal ball, so industry trend predictions, especially in an area as erratic as fashion, will never be perfect. However, using data to forecast both the immediate and long-term future can allow companies to adjust their strategies to comply with any needed future changes.

An article in the online publication Information Age features a number of organizations that are using technology to improve business projections. One of the featured companies is German catalog shopping leader Otto. The clothing distributor is making major strides toward projecting customer behavior with greater accuracy, all with the help of its database software system. By using an analytics solution to determine the validity of its information, Otto is able to gain some crucial insights such as future product demand.

Thomas Friese, senior product manager for forecasting at Otto, spoke with the news source about the benefits of accurate projections, particularly as they pertain to reducing spending. By knowing what clothing items are going to be in demand, Otto can organize cost-effective shipping schedules.

“Many of the clothes we sell are manufactured in China, so a substantial portion of their retail cost is shipping,” Friese said. “If we can order enough in advance, we can ship the items across on cargo ships. But if we need more than we’d bargained for, we have to fly them over, which costs much more.”

As this blog has mentioned in the past, simply collecting data will not give businesses the resources they need to conduct accurate projections. Otto’s success stems from its database system. Companies in a similar situation would be wise to develop a FileMaker-based solution that can effectively collect and organize data, weed out non-pertinent information and present appropriate valuable insights that businesses can use to their advantage.

The right database software can accommodate all data management needs

As companies evolve and adapt to growing data volumes, there are two factors that each organization must consider: how can they use their information to their benefit and how will they store all of it. 

Whether one is more important than the other is debatable. Depending on the business, one might carry greater weight than the other. Companies that thrive on data analytics will want to ensure they are getting the most out of their information. Sales and marketing professionals use data to generate more effective messaging and target more specific audiences.

Meanwhile, companies that process massive volumes of information have to be able to store it all. This is particularly important for businesses in financial industries that process terabytes worth of data each day while trying to maintain compliance with various regulations.

Tom Mendoza, vice chairman for data management firm NetApp, spoke recently with Business Today and said, "Efficient data storage a bigger issue than analytics." Mendoza stressed the importance of proper data storage management. 

"The amount of data has been enormous for a long, long time," Mendoza said. "That's not new. One of the things I'm careful about is when people get behind a buzzword. Storage grows five to 10 times every five years for an average enterprise and it's important to slow that growth. Why? Because for every dollar you spend on one megabyte of storage, you spend $6 to manage it. Even if it's cheap or free, you spend $6."

To slow the growth of data, companies need to manage it more efficiently. This includes finding and eliminating unnecessary and duplicate data files. By using FileMaker to develop a custom database software system, organizations can allow themselves the ability to properly monitor volumes and take appropriate action to alleviate any issues pertaining to data size. Additionally, organizations that place a greater emphasis on data analytics can use a system of this nature to properly monitor information and gain new, valuable insights.

Regardless of how you prioritize usage, having a custom-built system will help all operations pertaining to data management.

Flood of startups enter database software industry

Companies around the world are discovering the rewards of using database software. With strong organizational and statistical records, businesses are able to increase efficiency and productivity, and consequently, products. While this isn't exactly news, a recent trend in the data tracking world is an increase in startups entering the industry.

An article in the Wall Street Journal detailed a number of new businesses offering this type of product as a "flood of capital is pouring into the database market." One car part supplier, for example, is using a new type of software to record types of cars driven in different regions and another is using a different new technology to determine where viewers place their cursors on photos, and for how long.

"A new wave of databases is attracting customers looking to boost their business with powerful and cost-effective tools to tap into the growing mass of unstructured data collected from company websites, supply chains and social channels," the Journal said.

While it's clear that these companies are realizing the value of database software, and the rewards that can be gained with keeping and analyzing data, companies should also keep something else in mind: the quality of these new innovations.

Since recording information is so vital to a company's bottom line, choosing a database software is as well. While some major companies are taking a risk and going the startup route, choosing a reputable and well-respected product, like Filemaker, is the preferred option. In addition, with brands that have a long history in the industry, the kinks and issues have long been worked out, giving companies using the software peace of mind and the ability to use the information to better their service more quickly than with other brands.

Database software helps organize integrated marketing campaigns

Integrated marketing is one of the fastest-growing practices within the industry, mainly because advancements in technology have made it increasingly simple to combine various channels into one focused campaign.

Time once was that marketing campaigns consisted of multiple professionals managing different channels in order to obtain inroads into new industries and marketing mediums. However, that was proven to be a risky venture, as unsuccessful channels were causing companies to waste valuable resources that yielded unfavorable results. Today, many marketing campaigns can be integrated and consolidated, which alleviates the negative ramifications of failed channel campaigns.

According to an article in Customer Think, this will become even more important in 2013. Tony Zambito, the article's author, suggests more organizations integrate their channels to help obtain maximum value from each campaign.

"Campaigns can be costly," Zambito writes. "When they do not add up, this can be painful – in the sense that you have shot your allocated resources on the wrong channels. Look for more focus in 2013 on how to leverage different channels and integrate campaigns. When developing campaigns, how integrating social media, content marketing, mobile, web, and newer emerging channels into the campaigns will leverage cost yet yield more results becomes a key driver."

This practice does have its fair share of new challenges, namely in data analytics. Organizations must find ways to better manage the information they glean from their campaigns, which could become quite the chore if data is all being funneled to one centralized location. Creating a custom database software system will give professionals proper insight into the value of their respective data and make appropriate decisions. By developing a system designed to accommodate their integrated marketing, companies can ensure they maximize the potential of each channel and campaign.

Study: Global digital content to triple by 2015

Let's face it, digital data growth is not going to slow down anytime soon. In fact, the amount of content either being created digitally or converted from traditional to digital format is increasing at breakneck speed. 

According to analysis from IDC, the volume of digital content in the world grew 48 percent from 2011 to 2012, coming in at around 2.7 billion terabytes by the end of last year. While that number may seem large, it is relatively tiny compared to IDC's projections. The global market intelligence firm predicts that by 2015, the amount of global digital content will reach 8 billion terabytes.

This data will be spread out through a multitude of organizations in various industries in different countries and continents so no one entity will be burdened with this much information, but the fact that data will nearly triple in the next two years is an alarming thought. It shows that companies cannot rely on traditional data management techniques and solutions if they want to succeed in the future.

They key to an organization's future survival is implementing systems designed to simplify and speed up that data management process. Companies will have a virtually endless supply of information to wade through, which could prove to be problematic if decision makers are tasked with finding specific data. Implementing a system designed to expedite the data management process will alleviate this concern.

Using FileMaker to design a custom database software solution can give companies the ability to better store and manage their information. It can also allow professionals to find what they are looking for without having to sift through duplicate or unnecessary data.

Digital information will continue to grow long after 2015, and those equipped with flexible and scalable solutions will be prepared to handle future challenges.

Custom database software alleviates the risks associated with personal device usage

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is one of the most popular terms in today’s business circles. Brought on by the rapid evolution of mobile technology, this policy allows employees to bring their own smartphones and tablets into the office and use them as working machines.

At its core, BYOD is designed to promote business efficiency, but not everyone is on board with it. Security is always a major concern with business technology, and the idea of BYOD has heightened many of those fears. If an employee stores sensitive company data on his or her device, takes it outside of the office and then either loses it or has it stolen, the security of the entire organization could be put in jeopardy.

Even businesses that refuse to implement BYOD strategies know they can’t completely prevent an employee from using a personal device to store company data. As long as workers bring their smartphones to work with them, data is always going to be at risk. The New York Times recently featured a number of organizations that are creating solutions to avoid security risks brought on by personal mobile usage. Bill Burns, the director of IT infrastructure at Netflix, told the Times that you can’t avoid personal device usage, so it’s best to implement a system designed to build additional security layers.

“People are going to bring their own devices, their own data, their own software applications, even their own work groups,” Burns said. “If you try and implant software that limits an employee’s capabilities, you’re adding a layer of complexity.”

Companies should not be discouraging the use of personal devices in the workplace, because the need to do so usually equates to the desire to build personal productivity. Creating a custom database software system can allow companies to store sensitive data off of personal devices, while still giving them access through secure applications. This allows businesses to keep sensitive information onsite, while promoting efficiency through the use of smartphones and tablets.